BoF: An IGLOO for Work? Holmris Designs Next-Gen Work Hub

It looks like a brightly colored squished doughnut, but it could be one of the most innovative mobile meeting spaces the industry has seen in quite some time. It is the IGLOO, a meeting and working space designed for the open office environment by Holmris.

Sold under the company’s Spaces by Holmris brand, the mobile space creates a collaborative meeting in the round in any office. It is one of those products with a look you immediately love or hate. It is that different.

But Michael Brandt, chief executive officer of Holmris US, said form follows function. What happens inside the meeting pod and the technology that drives it is what matters. The modular pods, which come in two sizes — a large one for meetings of up to 24 participants and a smaller one with seating for up to 10 — is filled with technology that helps facilitate the meeting and create collaboration.

“The cool thing about IGLOO is that you can just take it apart and move it to a different location,” Brandt said. “It is like a pop-up meeting room. The way it is constructed makes it very easy to take apart, move and put back up.”

The IGLOO is certainly not the typical meeting room. It was designed as a “space for innovation” for everything from meetings to conferences to study groups. Digital media is integrated throughout the space. It comes fully equipped with a top-of-the-line commercial AV package that includes wireless interconnectivity for all meeting participants and a complete, customizable set of flat screen monitors. Any participant can be a part of the meeting wirelessly. Since Holmris is not using proprietary technology, connections are easy for any device.

Speakers are integrated as well and can be built in behind the participants or into a sound bar under the monitor. The ceiling has an LED light ring to provide ambient lighting. The IGLOO also has a motion sensor so as soon as someone walks into the space, the monitor is activated and LED lights come on. Under every seat or every other seat, the customer has the ability to add integrated power for plugs or USB connections.

The IGLOO is designed for both permanent and temporary use. It can stay in place or the customer can call Holmris, and the company will send a team to relocate. The construction itself is characterized by a simple, modular logic, as all modules are prefabricated and easy to install and dismantle. The modularity also makes it easy to get into any building with a ceiling height of at least eight feet. It arrives fully knocked down on seven skids. Two installers can put it up in a short amount of time, which is included in the price of the package.

“The cool thing about IGLOO is that you can just take it apart and move it to a different location,” Brandt said. “It is like a pop-up meeting room. The way it is constructed makes it very easy to take apart, move and put back up.”

A lot is packed into a small amount of space. The IGLOO that seats 24 takes up a diameter of 25 feet of floor space. The IGLOO for 10 takes up a diameter of 14 feet.

The inner and outer part of the IGLOO is filled with the eco-foam Ecophon, which is upholstered with fabric and makes it quiet inside and out. A wide range of colors are available so designers and their customers can express themselves or reflect a company brand. The IGLOO name comes from its unique shape, and it creates the same cozy atmosphere as its natural namesake. Constructed with no doors, the IGLOO has an open flow with quick access and exit. It isn’t fully enclosed on the floor or the ceiling.

IGLOO was first designed by Aart Architects in Denmark for a university there. When the university was breaking ground on a new campus, administrators had a lot of ideas about what to put into the campus. They wanted to create a new classroom/dialog pod — a meeting area for many uses. After the university project was completed, it went to work further defining the campus with the help of Holmris.

Two standard sizes are available, but Holmris is able to make just about any size (or shape) a customer might desire. The company can create custom IGLOOs in a 90-degree shape or quadrangular — really any shape imaginable. The technology found inside — such as the size and number of the monitors — also can be customized.

Holmris has found the circular design is important. Participants feel at home, and everyone can see other participants in the meeting. Since it’s circular, the hierarchy usually found in meetings or presentations disappears.

The company is already working on version 2.0 of the IGLOO, which will include touchdown spaces on the outside of the pod. The outside panels that make up the IGLOO will be available in different options like veneers, laminates, tackboards or whiteboards.

The IGLOO is not cheap. The 10-seater lists at $50,000 and the 24-seat costs $75,000. When compared to a fully fitted, stick-built conference room, the IGLOO comes in at about 15 percent to 20 percent more. But Brandt is quick to note you can’t move a traditionally built conference room.

Holmris, founded in 1937 and the largest office furniture maker in Denmark, also has a full range of complimentary products to fill the rest of the office. The brand is best known for its height adjustable desks. Holmris has 18 collections of sit-stand desks and has been in the segment for decades.

Holmris brought the brand to the U.S. in the 1960s. It really started focusing on the U.S. market in January 2014 when it created Holmris US and opened a fully stocked warehouse facility.

It is known for taking chances with design. In addition to IGLOO, Holmris also sells the Milk Desk, which has the option of having an aquarium built into it. “The design here at Holmris is definitely different than a textbook,” Brandt said. “We create intriguing, innovative products. Design is at the forefront of our world.”BoF

This story was first published in April 27, 2016 issue of The Business of Furniture >